Sally Field on Hillary Clinton, ‘Spider-Man,’ and the Best On-Screen Kiss of Her Life

Two-time Oscar winner also tells Howard why she’s happy staying single at 69

March 14, 2016
Photo: The Howard Stern Show

Sally Field made her Stern Show debut on Monday morning, talking to Howard about her new film “Hello, My Name Is Doris.” The two-time Academy Award winner also shared stories of getting her start in TV, taking roles that left her less than fulfilled, and who in Hollywood gave her the best on-screen kiss of her life.

Flying Nun Nonsense

Photo: ABC

After her TV show “Gidget” was cancelled, 19-year-old Sally was left looking for another acting gig. Although she didn’t want to take it, her stuntman stepfather Jock Mahoney convinced Sally to accept the part of Sister Bertrille on “The Flying Nun.”

“I disliked it so much,” Sally told Howard. “It was such nonsense.”

Her contempt for the show got so bad, Sally eventually stopped reading her scripts and instead learned her lines while on set, looking over the script supervisor’s shoulder and memorizing her dialogue on the spot.

“I didn’t have the wherewithal at that time to rise up over it,” Sally explained, saying that it was frustrating to be starring in a show like “The Flying Nun” while everything else in the ’60s was happening. “I wanted to be part of my generation.”

Her co-star on the series, Madeleine Sherwood, ultimately took Sally under her wing and helped her enroll in Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio, where she learned a lot about herself.

“I was starting to find the place inside of me that mattered which was to be an actor,” Sally said.

Method Acting: It’s Not Just for Daniel Day-Lewis

Photo: Disney

Stories have spread from the “Lincoln” set about how Daniel Day-Lewis attempted to stay in character during the entire production of the film, even when cameras weren’t rolling. Sally told Howard that he wasn’t the only one who practiced method acting on that movie.

“We were both doing that,” Sally said, revealing that she tried to stay in character as Mary Todd Lincoln as well. “Trying to stay as much in the land that you’re portraying is extremely important.”

Immersing herself in the character she’s playing is a tactic Sally learned early on. In order to land her role in the TV movie “Sybil,” about a young woman with multiple personality disorder, Sally had to convince producers that she was this character.

“They thought I was a troubled soul,” Sally said. “I learned that the only way I’d be hired for a role is for people to think that I was that person.”


Sally Field as Aunt May in "The Amazing Spider-Man" Sally Field as Aunt May in “The Amazing Spider-Man” Photo: Columbia Pictures

Not all roles in Hollywood are equal, however, and Sally said there are parts that she’s taken that have left her feeling less than fulfilled. One such role was playing Aunt May in “The Amazing Spider-Man” and its sequel.

“It’s not my kind of movie,” Sally told Howard, explaining that she agreed to be in the movie for her friend Laura Ziskin, a producer on the film, who died in 2011.

“We knew it would be her last film,” Sally said. While she said she enjoyed working with the other stars of the superhero blockbuster, Sally struggled to find a three-dimensional character in the movie.

“You can’t put 10 pounds of shit in a 5-pound bag,” Sally said.

She’s With Hillary

Many in Hollywood may be feeling the Bern, but not Sally. She told Howard that she’s always been a Hillary Clinton supporter and that won’t be changing anytime soon.

“I’d like it to be over and see her get the nomination,” Sally told Howard, explaining that she appreciates the important dialogue that Sen. Bernie Sanders has created, but that her opinion of him has soured lately.

“He’s losing my respect,” Sally said. “At first, I had a great deal of respect for him, and now I just see him being hungry for his own achievement against the things he was really fighting for.”

“I don’t want to see him yelling at anybody,” Sally continued. “They’re talking about real issues and really important things. I think he’s losing his decency in this.”

Single, for Now

Having already given marriage a try twice in her life, Sally told Howard that now, at 69, she’s fine staying single.

“I like my little life the way it is,” Sally admitted, saying she enjoys her time with her kids and grandchildren. She did confess to feeling lonely at times, though.

“I’ve always been lonely, especially when I was married,” Sally said. “I don’t know how to identify who might be the right person for me to have a long-term… relationship.”

Sally also explained that she is notorious for being a hermit, saying, “When I’m not working, I am hiding.”

And while she’s experienced love in her life, perhaps the greatest kiss she ever received came from co-star James Garner on the set of the 1985 rom-com “Murphy’s Romance.”

“He came around and kissed me like there was no tomorrow,” Sally said. “I just was floored. It was without a doubt one of the best kisses ever.”

Her Dad and Mrs. Doubtfire

Robin Williams and Sally Field in "Mrs. Doubtfire" Robin Williams and Sally Field in “Mrs. Doubtfire” Photo: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Sally’s parents divorced when she was just four years old, and though she told Howard she continued to have a relationship with her biological father, they lacked the closeness she wanted. Decades later, her dad fell ill while Sally was shooting “Mrs. Doubtfire,” a movie about divorce and maintaining the relationship between a father and his kids. After he suffered a stroke, Sally was granted stewardship of her father.

“I foolishly would think, ‘well maybe now I’ll finally get to know my father,'” Sally recounted. But after his stroke the only two words her father could say were “fun” and “shit.” With a laugh, Sally told Howard that her father’s limited vocabulary didn’t help her much in getting to know him.

Sally also admitted to being a “hugely emotional person” and told Howard that she’s been keeping a diary for well over 20 years. Sally does not keep her handwritten pages in a safe space though and when asked if she worried about having her personal thoughts revealed, she explained to Howard that anyone who got their hands on her diary wouldn’t be able to read it anyway.

“They’re almost undecipherable,” Sally said. “I don’t think anyone could read them. It looks like a mad person scribbling.”

Sally Field and her new movie “Hello, My Name is Doris” are in theaters now.